Engineers look at California collapse

May 2, 2007 at 8:32 AM
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OAKLAND, May 2 (UPI) -- Traffic engineers said the explosive crash that collapsed a highway in Oakland, Calif., may have been an accident waiting to happen.

"This is a wake-up call for the engineering community in California," Abolhassan Astaneh, a University of California, Berkeley, civil engineering professor told the Los Angeles Times of Sunday's crash and explosion of a gasoline tanker that collapsed a freeway and left a busy highway closed.

"To have a container of 8,600 gallons of fuel burning -- it is like steel skewers on a barbecue, and they get soft," Astaneh told the Times. "You put bare steel with no fireproofing, then you have a major problem, not a freak accident. This was an accident, but one we should have predicted as engineers."

With a major interchange closed and backups significant, state officials boosted transit services and made them free, the Times reported.

The state had spent $8.8 million on demolition, traffic control and free public transportation as of Monday but expected federal help, Caltrans Director Will Kempton said.

In Oakland, meanwhile, the City Council Tuesday declared a state of emergency that will help it seek state or federal aid, the Oakland Tribune reported.

Mayor Ron Dellums said he was concerned about the effect of traffic on the health of residents, the Tribune reported.

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